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By BRIAN HAWKINS
Three of four suspects arrested in connection with an early December home invasion in north Starkville is now facing trial on an armed robbery charge in the case.
Donnie Harris, 20, and Marcel Jones, 22, both of Columbus, and William Graham Jr., 30, of Macon, were arraigned on individual Grand Jury indictments for armed robbery in Oktibbeha County Circuit Court on Tuesday. Bond for all three suspects was set at $100,000 apiece.
A fourth suspect â€” Christopher James Whooper, 26, of Columbus â€” was arrested in the incident, but whether he was indicted by the Grand Jury has not yet been made public.
The four suspects were arrested within a few days after the home invasion incident, which was reported at 11:45 p.m. Dec. 1, 2010, at a home at 1403 Reed Road in north Starkville.
Harris is the first to be arraigned on a Grand Jury indictment in the incident.
In the Dec. 1 incident, the 71-year-old woman was awakened by a knock at the door by three black males â€” later identified as Jones, Harris and Whooper â€” who asked to use her telephone because they told her they needed help, said Starkville Police Department detectives after Harris and the other suspects were arrested.
The woman let the three men into her home and handed one of them her cellular phone to make the call. As one of them pretended to call someone, one of the others pulled out what was described as a black, large-frame automatic handgun, pointed at the woman and told her to â€śsit down and shut up,â€ť SPD detectives said.
The suspect held her at gunpoint while the third man went into a bedroom and took $520 and some change before fleeing on foot to a car police believe was parked nearby, police detectives said.
Other members of the womanâ€™s family remained asleep in the home during the robbery, they said.
Police detectives have not disclosed the circumstances of the investigation that led them to the four suspects, nor would they disclose the name of the victim, citing continued concerns for her safety.
Robbery suspect arraigned
The man charged with the early November armed robbery of a
local business office has been indicted by the Grand Jury in the incident.
Frank Emmanuel Potts, 20, of 710 Ann St., Weir, was arraigned on a Grand Jury indictment for armed robbery Thursday in Oktibbeha County Circuit Court.
Potts was ordered held without bond.
Potts is charged with holding up the offices of Moreland Inc. early in the morning of Nov. 2.
According to initial SPD reports of the incident, the suspect â€” then described as a black male with a dreadlock hairstyle and wearing a red hooded jacket and black pants â€” entered the Moreland Inc. offices at 7:55 a.m. Nov. 2, 2010, and pulled what was believed to be a 9-milimeter handgun on owners Dan and Sherry Moreland, demanding money.
The Morelands froze as the suspect drew his gun on them, demanded money and then fled the office on foot with an undetermined amount of cash. Dan Moreland then fired a single gunshot at the suspect in self-defense, but did not strike him.
The suspect was seen running north on Whitfield Street, at one point running behind a yellow house, police said..
Responding officers immediately searched the area around the business and recovered evidence, though police detectives would not specify what type of evidence was discovered, including whether it included the handgun used in the holdup.
Within minutes of the incident, an off-duty SPD officer traveling in the area saw who he believed to be the suspect getting into a newer model red Chrevolet Monte Carlo on Whitfield Street.
The Monte Carlo was later found unoccupied on Whitfield Street, and police, after obtaining a search warrant, subsequently recovered evidence linking the suspect as well as â€śfruits of the crimeâ€ť from the car, said police detectives, who again would not comment on the nature of the evidence found, including whether it was money taken in the robbery.
Using that evidence found in the car, Potts was developed at a suspect and soon located at his home in Weir, where he was arrested with the aid of Choctaw County authorities
Murder trials postponed
The trials of two suspects in two separate murders that were scheduled for the current court term have been postponed.
â€˘ The trial of a Sturgis man charged with capital murder in the Sept. 28, 2008, shootings of two people â€” one fatally â€” has been postponed pending a hearing on pretrial motions.
Archie Quinn, 49, of 3233 Craig Springs Road, Sturgis, is charged with fatally shooting Stacy M. Gray, 35, of 3223 Craig Springs Road, Sturgis, and wounding Terry Johnson, 45, at the latterâ€™s home on West Sand Creek Road.
Quinn was originally scheduled to be tried next week, but a hearing Monday revealed that his defense attorney, Chokwe Lumumba of Jackson, had yet to file several standard pretrial motions.
The motions have since been filed, and another court hearing is pending to allow arguments on those motions and set a new trial date.
â€˘ The trial of an Oktibbeha County woman on a murder charge in the fatal shooting of her husband while he was hunting early one late November 2009 morning has been postponed to May 2.
Varina Marie Childs, 37, of 3875 Jeff Peay Road, was to stand trial beginning this Monday for murder in the Nov. 22, 2009, shooting death of her husband Douglas Marion Childs, 32.
Childsâ€™ trial was rescheduled after her defense attorney was granted a continuance to allow for receipt of evidence, including some from an expert witness.